Panic - A sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior, and that often spreads quickly through a group of persons or animals.
In Army boot camp, we were out in the field asleep and were woken in the middle of the night and told very little of what we were doing. We were led to a small field, loaded with razor wire, and told to go through the course. We lined up to go under the razor wire, and the ground was muddy and near freezing. Then it started, shots from M-60’s and 50 caliber machine guns, and overhead we could see the tracer rounds burn through the air. On both sides, the drill sergeants were tossing live grenades into sandpits, surrounded by sandbags. Tracking flares floated over the course, drill sergeants were randomly shouting from every direction.
It was very surreal and disorienting.
In boot camp, things are made as safe as possible. Someone would have to screw up very badly to get hurt, but we were heading into a live-fire. A few of us panicked and ran away. I actually enjoyed it and found it to be a peaceful experience.
If it were the real thing, those that panicked would not have survived.
Another time I will not ever forget is when they unexpectedly attacked us with tear gas grenades a week or two later. This was the first and last time that I well and truly panicked.
I will never forget a certain drill sergeant - who looked like an angry bulldog on a good day. He was yelling at everyone to get their masks on, right in the middle of all that painful gas. I remember getting knocked to the ground, and what he said to me can’t be written in such a family-friendly site as this, but it cleared my head enough, so I could put on my mask.
I don’t know how long it took between the start of the attack and when I got the mask on, less than 30 seconds, I think. If it were real, there is no doubt I would have died.
It is a lesson I never forgot. It has helped me never lose my reasoning ability regardless of what crazy thing I was doing in the military.
I get it. Panicking is not always easy to avoid, especially in unfamiliar situations.
I am mentally ill and get anxious easily, and am a little paranoid. When I go to the store, it feels like I am getting coated in the virus, and for some reason, my head gets really itchy. I have had a massive headache the past two days, and that is ratcheting up the paranoia. It is not always easy, even with a healthy mind.
I go back to my training and remember that no good comes from panicking, but it still wants to get out.
The trick is to not get to the point where dangerous stress responses happen, AKA “fight, flight, or freeze.” It is not always avoidable, but how one reacts to this pandemic can be controlled. Properly educate yourself, and don’t allow panic to set in.
Don’t be greedy
We can see the results of panic, and most of it is only mildly harmful, so far. Hoarding toilet paper, face masks, and soap might just seem like a dumb but harmless thing, but it could have serious consequences. Think about the elderly lady down the road that can’t get to the store often, but is getting low on food and over-the-counter medicine.
What is she going to do because people lost their minds and let irrationality take over? She is now in trouble.
If irrational people did not hoard toilet paper or flour, there would be no shortage.
About half of Americans don’t even have $500 for emergencies. What is all this pointless spending doing to their finances? Even if you have the money to buy a dozen packages of TP, what is the point?
I am trying to buy food and supplies for a local homeless family shelter, and it is hard to get things that they need. There is no rational reason for this to be happening.
It is a good idea to have about a month’s worth of food and supplies at all times. The time to do that is when there is no emergency. If you wait to do it, it is too late.
Hoarding is stupid and greedy. It will kill people, possibly you and your family. Think about what will happen if you have a year’s worth of supplies and people continue to panic and lots of people can’t buy anything. You could become a target. Panic does nothing good. Take a breath, assess the situation rationally, take stock of what is in your house and make a list of what you need for the next 4 weeks.
There are only shortages because people panicked.
I went shopping the other day and was horrified by what I saw. Things like ramen noodles, canned soup, and sugar-laden boxed cereals were being sold out. I saw carts with 5 or 6 cases of ramen noodles and other terrible processed “food.” Those are devoid of nutrients and really can’t be called food. I grew up fairly poor and in a large family, but we ate healthily. As an adult, I had quite a few years with little to spend on food and still managed to eat somewhat decently.
What are the chances that running water or electricity/gas will shut down in the next three to six months? Why are you buying 100’s of gallons of bottled water and more batteries than you will use in a lifetime? It is always good to have a reasonable stockpile but not so much that no one else can even buy a month’s worth of it. Get some large containers for water and a filter and store your own water. There are lots of ways to make sure you are covered without causing havoc.
Hopefully, more stores will start enforcing limits on certain items soon.
Don’t be racist
Despite certain ‘news’ outlets and politicians making this a racial issue, this is not a Chinese virus. It is simply a virus, and they don’t care who you are.
It is disgusting reading reports of attacks of various types against people of Chinese origin. Chinese people are not carriers, and the owner of that Chinese restaurant down the road is not infected, will likely never be, and does not want it to spread.
Of course, since this is America, non-Chinese Asians are also getting attacked.
I can’t believe people are so embarrassingly ignorant that it needs to be said. Knock it off.
Do not overwhelm medical and emergency services
Emergency rooms are for emergencies. This is always true, but that distinction will become more important as this progresses. If you don’t have a bona fide emergency, wait to see your primary doctor or go to one of those urgent care centers that are popping up faster than Starbucks.
If this gets worse and people are misusing emergency and other hospital services, they will get overwhelmed. Then people will die.
Think of it this way, if this gets worse, and you go in for a minor burn or something, you will sit in the waiting room for hours.
If you don’t need to see a doctor, don’t. If you do, please go, and of course, do not miss any appointments. Medical care doesn’t yet need to be rationed, and overwhelming the hospitals will cause unbelievable harm to everyone.
The same goes for overwhelming the 911 system, police, and fire.
Stay calm, be rational and help others
With the self-interested, gleefully ignorant, and stunningly incompetent President that we are currently saddled with it is more important than ever for local governments and their people to help out. Look how bad the aftermath of hurricane Katrina got with a well-meaning but ignorant and incompetent President. This has the potential to be a nationwide Katrina-level problem.
If you can help, do so. I forget where I heard it, but it is true: If you have ever had a desire to get into politics at any level, now is your chance to do so and do a lot of good. Just don’t help to the point it will hurt you or others. Most people have no such desires but see what community organizations need and if you can help out.
Businesses are putting plans into action to stay up and running with minimizing risk. Neighborhoods need to do the same.
Just remember, this isn’t The Stand, Mad Max, or a zombie apocalypse. We don’t need bands of armed and woefully untrained hooligans roaming the streets or countryside.
Make a plan with your neighbors about what to do if someone gets ill. Make sure any elderly people living alone have what they need and can get help. Check that everyone has food and supplies and make sure there is a way to limit spreading the virus, especially in the same household.
Adopting a greedy attitude will not only hurt others but will also damage the economy. If you are so myopic that the idea of making everyone as safe as possible doesn’t appeal to you, think about your property values. They will drop when a few homes nearby get foreclosed on because this illness caused your neighbors to not be able to work. I need to go take a shower after making such a soulless argument.
If someone has a cold or flu, that is not COVID-19. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. If someone sneezes because they have a cold or allergies, they are not dangerous and don’t panic if it happens nearby in public.
Everyone needs to limit contact and most of all, do not panic.
Try to live your life
Caution is extremely important. There is no reason to become a shut-in with a living room full of masks and toilet paper. Continue to live your life as is practical and safe. Exercise (just outdoors or at home), go out on picnics, go fishing, hiking or camping but cautiously and minimize contact with others, of course. Just make sure you follow the guidelines regarding social distancing.
Consider lowering your expenses where you can without impacting your life too much, just in case. I am reconsidering what to do this spring, with regards to home and yard improvements, for example.
Hopefully, this will not progress to something horrible, as bad as it is already. Cases in China seem to be leveling off, which is hopefully a good sign that everywhere will follow the same track, but it seems that no one knows yet since this virus is new. Listen to rational news, and get your information directly from local, state, and federal health agencies, and modify your behavior based on solid information. Do a search for “< insert your state/county/city > COVID-19” for localized information and any restrictions that are put in place.
Guidelines could change from day to day as more research is done, so take that into consideration.
If you think you might have gotten infected, call your doctor first, and follow their directions. Make sure those that live with you are protected.
Panic has never helped anyone, not ever. It does make things worse 100% of the time.
Above all, stay calm, and don’t forget to laugh now and again.